AnthroSource Steering Committee Supports FRPAA

Eric Kansa of Digging Digitally scoops our own AnthroSource Steering Committee member, Rex:

the AnthroSource Steering Committee itself has made a public statement strongly and unambiguously in favor of FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act).

Eric has more to say, but I’ll jump write to the contents of the AnthroSource statement, which I reproduce in full below:

To: Alan Goodman, President, American Anthropological AssociationTo: Alan Goodman, President, American Anthropological Association
Deborah Heath, Chair, AAA Committee on Scientific Communication (CSC)
Fr: Suzanne Calpestri, Chair AnthroSource Steering Committee (ASSC)
Re: AAA and Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA)
Cc: Bill Davis, Executive Director, American Anthropological Association
Jasper Simons, Dir. of Publications, American Anthropological Association
AnthroSource Steering Committee listserv

I am writing at the suggestion of Deborah Heath who has indicated that it would be useful to have a statement clarifying the views of the AnthroSource Steering Committee regarding FRPAA ( to which the AAA staff expressed opposition by signing a letter from the American Association of Publishers (AAP). ( Subsequently the AAA staff prepared a FAQ (link to FAQ ) explaining their opposition to the legislation. The Steering Committee’s views on the legislation itself and the substantive issues raised in the AAP letter and the AAA staff FAQ follow.

In early May 2006 The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA) was introduced into the U. S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). This legislation would require that federally funded research appearing in peer-reviewed journals be made openly accessible in digital repositories (either centralized subject-based or institutional repositories) within six months of publication. The legislation does not affect copyright and specifically excludes from deposit research notes, source data and preliminary analyses, classified or revenue-producing research and rejected manuscripts or manuscripts that were not submitted to a journal.

Why ASSC supports FRPAA

The ASSC stands in strong support of FRPAA because this legislation provides strategic infrastructure and impetus for achieving AnthroSource’s (and the AAA’s) mission regarding “increase[d] visibility of and access to anthropological knowledge.” In addition, by removing barriers to access, FRPAA enables the “development of global communities of interest based on anthropological knowledge.”

Of foremost importance, this legislation provides scholars increased access to the research of others so that they can build on that work and achieve greater understanding and better outcomes. Included among those who gain the most are those working outside major research institutions (for example, those working in small to medium size institutions, practicing anthropologists, and those working in developing countries). Other significant beneficiaries of interest to anthropologists are the communities of people in whose midst and with whose assent and help anthropologists conduct their studies.

Further FRPAA/OA provides authors increased visibility and impact.
Open access has been empirically shown to increase impact and advance research in science, social science, and the humanities ( By extension publishers and disciplines (anthropology) benefit when their authors’ and members’ publications are widely accessible in the research community. Anthropology as a discipline has much to offer the public at large, and stands to take a back seat in the public sphere if the results of its research are constrained by price barriers.
Further, journals that do not provide the impact and visibility enjoyed by open access journals will not attract the best scholarship.

FRPAA’s requirement for deposit in a repository is one of its more salient features. It has been demonstrated that mandates from funding sources (as done by The Wellcome Trust) produce desired results where requests (as done by the NIH) have failed to do so (

With more than a decade of experience, there is no evidence that self-archiving reduces subscription revenue ( even in disciplines where self-archiving is widely practiced. In the case of the AAA, the 2005 author’s agreement provides all AAA authors the right to self-archive their final peer-reviewed manuscripts in repositories simultaneously with publication. As far as we know, this has not had any negative financial impact.

Why the ASSC does not support the “official” AAA position

The AnthroSource Steering Committee takes issue with the opposition to FRPAA expressed in the AAP letter that the AAA has officially signed. Going beyond our conflicting positions, we are concerned that the reasoning provided in the AAP letter ( and the FRPAA FAQ (link) prepared by AAA staff do not serve the AAA well.

The AAA has placed itself in clear opposition to the academic community and libraries of all types who have publicly voiced unequivocal support for FRPAA. The open letter from provosts ( is particularly noteworthy as it signals the intent to re-direct their budgets for scholarly communication toward institutions that support the principles of FRPAA. We are disappointed to see that the AAA has distanced itself from the position taken by key academic administrators who will make important decisions about how funding is allocated to meet the needs of the scholarly community.

We take exception to the AAP letter, which states that FRPAA “would effectively expropriate the substantial investments in peer review made by professional and scholarly journal publishers” on the grounds that it ignores the fact that publishers themselves profit from the availability of royalty-free, publicly financed research that is enhanced by reviewers who are compensated not by publishers but by the institutions in which they work.

We also want to point out that to satisfy FRPAA requirements, an author may submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript and is not required to submit the publishers’ formatted work. FPRAA places the burden of deposit on the researcher, not on the publisher.

The FAQ reinforces the appearance that AAA has placed commercial interests at the forefront of its publications program by claiming that “subscription revenue could be adversely affected by the legislation.” As mentioned above, studies in many fields over more than a decade show that self-archiving has not reduced subscriptions.

The FRPAA FAQ prepared by AAA staff indicates that “AAA policy support[s] open access objectives.” We acknowledge that the author agreement and the Executive Board motion to allow complete access to institutions in less developed countries, tribal colleges and selected universities in North America are important moves in support of open access. However, AAA’s opposition to FRPAA and the ten-year embargo on Anthropology News for library subscribers are examples of AAA actions that go against the objectives of open access. From our perspective AAA does not have a policy on open access and its track record is mixed, thus putting into question the credibility of the association on matters related to open access.


In accordance with the ASSC’s responsibility to advise the CSC and Executive Board we recommend the following actions be taken in support of the AnthroSource vision.

That AAA join ranks with university administrators, librarians and various public interest groups in supporting FRPAA. Doing so is an important first step toward developing partnerships needed to move AnthroSource forward. An effective means to do so would be the development of an AAA resolution in support of FRPAA for consideration at the November meeting.

That AAA position itself to become, through AnthroSource, the repository of choice for anthropologists. AAA is uniquely qualified to take on the task of developing a disciplinary repository for anthropology. We note the 2005 authors’ rights agreement and AAA’s partnership with Portico to provide digital preservation services as important steps in this direction. Endorsing FRPAA is another important step as it provides crucial support to all institutions developing repositories of scholarly publications.

That AAA develop a member-informed policy on open access. The issues raised by FRPAA are consequential to the members of AAA and deserve broad discussion throughout the association toward the development of principles and a policy which foregrounds the needs of scholars. As a first step we urge that the ASSC position on FRPAA be made available to all members via aaanet and to section leaders and others via the AAA leadership list.


AAA and the Federal Research Public Access Act (FAQs)

AAA signals opposition to legislation (statement)

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